COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin knows Rice coach David Bailiff well and doesn’t expect his Owls to be wary when they face the seventh-ranked Aggies on Saturday in front of more than 100,000 fans.
“They’re going to be tough,” Sumlin said. “They’re going to change it up, try to get after our young quarterback, and there’s nothing in that program that says they’re going to be the least bit intimidated to come in and play us.”
Sumlin considers Bailiff a close friend, noting they lived in the same neighborhood when he coached Houston.
“Our relationship goes back 20 years,” Bailiff said. “I’ve watched him as a coordinator, I’ve watched him when he was at the University of Houston. I think he has ignited the program through his personality, his recruiting and his style that he possesses.”
But there won’t be much time for niceties on Saturday when the Aggies look to improve to 3-0 for the first time under Sumlin. They’re off to a great start thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Kenny Hill.
Hill is third in the nation with 794 yards passing, which is a school-record through two games, and his seven touchdown passes are tied for fifth in the country. He needed less than three quarters to pile up 283 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 73-3 win over Lamar.
With 206 yards passing on Saturday, he’ll become the first A&M quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in his first three games.
The Owls lost at Notre Dame 48-17 in their opener before a week off.
“They had a bye week and two complete weeks to prepare for us,” Sumlin said. “We’re going to get their best shot.”
Bailiff looks forward to playing tough competition.
“If you want be the best, you got to play the best and you have to keep playing those guys and winning those big games,” he said. “You have to keep working to get into those arenas, and also when you play the best it does help you get into conference play because you get exposed to what you need to work on.”
A few things to know about the Rice-Texas A&M game.
YOUTH IS SERVED
The Aggies have several freshman getting extended playing time early this season led by receiver/returner Speedy Noil and defensive end Myles Garrett.
“I don’t bring guys here to stand next to me on the sideline,” Sumlin said. “The best guys play.”
Noil had 71 yards receiving, a punt return for 67 yards and a kickoff return for 53 yards to finish with 191 all-purpose yards against Lamar. Garrett had five tackles, two sacks and two QB hurries. He has three sacks this season.
Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson is a dual threat for the Owls. He leads the team in both passing and yards rushing with 163 yards through the air and 61 on the ground.
These teams first met in 1914 and Texas A&M beat the Owls 52-31 last season for its 17th straight win in the series. The last victory by the Owls came in 1980 when they won 10-6 in College Station.
The Aggies set a record for fans at college game in Texas last week with a crowd of 104,728. The previous record was 101,851, which was set at a West Virginia-Texas game in 2012. The redeveloped Kyle Field has a capacity of 106,000, and Texas A&M hopes to break last week’s mark on Saturday.
PILING THEM UP
Texas A&M senior defensive back Howard Matthews leads the team with 10 tackles and is 14 tackles short of reaching 200 for his career. He has the most career tackles on the team and second is cornerback Deshazor Everett, who has 144 career tackles and leads the team with five interceptions and 15 pass breakups in his career.
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